July/August 2006

Hamilton de Holanda
Samba do Aviao
Kind of Blue

Mandolin virtuoso and composer Hamilton de Holanda proves the limitless capabilities of the Brazilian bandolim as a solo instrument on his newest release Samba do Avião, and is joined on the last three tracks by accordionist-composer Richard Galliano for what are the highlights of the album. The only drawback here is the producer’s choice of song sequence; the old adage “save the best for last” just doesn’t bode well these days, proving you should always open with the strongest tracks.

Rubens Cerqueira

Hamilton de Holanda

De Holanda’s polyrhythmic textures on the solo pieces show why he is credited with reviving the Brazilian chorinho as well as the mandolin itself, adding a fifth double course to the otherwise eight-string instrument. While the pensive and stark solo pieces display the brittle and harmonically rich qualities of the mandolin, it is the duet pieces that really shine. De Holanda and Galliano’s rapid-fire precision and exquisite soloing are riveting on their rendition of Hermeto Pascoal’s “Chorinho Pra Ele,” which in many ways is the “Giant Steps” of Brazilian choros. This exhilarating ninth cut is part of the closing three duets, which seems to give the album an unbalanced feeling, and may have enjoyed being spread out among the solo tracks.

Regardless, De Holanda’s mesmerizing treatment of Jobim classics as well as his own soulful and sophisticated compositions give the listener a new-found appreciation for an often underappreciated instrument.

Originally published in July/August 2006
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